While we don’t know for sure, the Pittsburgh Steelers are probably going to be without two of their top three tight ends Saturday when they play their third preseason game of 2018 at Heinz Field against the Tennessee Titans. On Tuesday, however, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert was asked to talk about what people should expect out of the team’s tight end group in 2018 during an interview on the ‘Fantasy Alarm Show’ on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and after first recapping the injuries that Vance McDonald and Xavier Grimble are currently dealing with, he indicated that he believes both should be ready for the start of the regular season.
“Well, unfortunately that position’s been nicked up a little bit,” Colbert explained. “Vance has been working through a foot injury. Really from the beginning of training camp, it was one of our earliest practices and he’s still working his way through that. And then Xavier Grimble actually injured his hand last week and he’s working through that.
“So, Jesse James has been our only consistent veteran player that’s been available to us. So, we’re still trying to sort that out. We have a couple of young kids that are there getting work and again that’s their opportunity to prove, but the veteran group is something we haven’t seen enough of simply because of the health issues that shouldn’t carry into the regular season.”
McDonald, as many of you should already know by now, has struggled with injuries his entire NFL career and even as far back as his playing days in college at Rice. This year he missed nearly all of the team’s training camp with a foot injury and odds are probably good all four preseason games this year as well.
As for Grimble, he suffered an injury in the Steelers first preseason game and has since underwent surgery to reportedly repair ligament in his thumb/wrist area. Those injuries have resulted in more practice reps and preseason game playing time for Jesse James, Bucky Hodges, Pharoah McKever and Christian Scotland-Williamson.
Assuming the Steelers can indeed get both McDonald and Grimble back healthy and ready to contribute on the field come Week 1 and beyond, Colbert might feel better about the position group. Right now, however, he, like the several of us, have to sit and hope that position group can live up to their collective potential this season.
“But again, it’s a little frustrating at this point because Vance did a nice job for us at the end of last year,” Colbert said Tuesday. “I believe he caught, I think it was 12 or 13 balls against Jacksonville and of course Jesse’s been a consistent contributor And Xavier Grimble has gotten better in the three years he’s been with us. So, hopefully we get them all back healthy and working and we can further find out what they can do for us.”
Colbert, by the way, was wrong with his stats recall of McDonald against the Jaguars last season as the tight end caught 10 passes for 122 yards in the Steelers playoff loss to Jacksonville at Heinz Field. Additionally, it’s probably worth pointing out that McDonald and Grimble have combined to catch just 40 passes for 450 yards and 3 touchdowns as members of the Steelers. James, on the other hand, has more than doubled each of those statistical categories in the three seasons he’s been with the Steelers.